One simple way to keep your business from slipping
By Russ Levanway, President
Have you ever tried to walk uphill on ice or loose gravel? Without the grip of a smooth surface, forward progress is nearly impossible, or, at best, inconsistent.
In one of my favorite books, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, author Gino Wickman describes an operating system, so to speak, for gaining traction and propelling an organization forward efficiently. This system addresses everything from how to structure an organization to how to conduct meetings, how to plan a business, settle core values and develop company culture.
Wickman calls it EOS, which stands for Entrepreneurial Operating System; in the book, he claims that almost all organizations have three core areas in their EOS:
- Sales. This can mean marketing, inside and outside sales, account management, etc.
- Operations. This is whatever the company’s product or service is. For CIO Solutions, for example, that includes our technical support team, our project team, field service, and consultants who help clients with the solutions they need.
- Administration. This is can be resources, finance, accounting, procurement, etc.
The trick, says Wickman, is to get all of these core areas functioning equally well.
This might seem obvious, but the concept is easily lost. Have you ever had a time in business when it feels like the “wheels are falling off”? Over the years I have certainly felt like that a few times – when it seems like a lot of things are going wrong all at once. In those times it’s natural to try to address the symptoms, but there may be many symptoms and it can be an overwhelming endeavor. Spending the time to dig into what the root cause of the problem is key.
A good way to do this is to spend more time figuring out what the real problem is.
Oftentimes, we dive right into fixing problems, and spend more time arguing about the fix than on identifying the problem. Taking the time to ask many questions, do some research, and take listening tours to figure out what that root cause is will be time well spent. You may find many symptoms self-correct once you’ve identified the root cause.
For example, very slow customer service (Operations) and the resulting frustrated customers leads to discouragement in the sales team (Sales), which affects their performance. And receivables may suffer at the same time (Administration). Hiring more sales people is going to treat a symptom, but not the cause.
Where did the decline start?
Follow the thread back to one of those three areas, and you’ll find the weak link that causes your organization to slip and slide. In this case, the root issue lies in Operations, perhaps the newest version of the widget you sell had a mistake in the instruction manual, and tech support got swamped with calls from people who couldn’t get the widget to turn on. Spend your energy to correct and re-distribute the manual – call volume will drop, your customers will be happier, your sales team will regain the confidence it needs to lift the bottom line, and your clients will pay their bills faster.
// Russ is a sought-after public speaker, technology expert, and community leader. As the president of an ever-growing managed services provider with offices in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Fresno, Russ’s goal is to sustain and grow an IT company that provides incredible value for clients, and a great workplace for his team. When he’s not collaborating to chart out the future of CIO Solutions, Russ serves on several non-profit boards, volunteers at the People’s Kitchen and travels the world with his wife and two daughters. More on Russ>>